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10.06.2005
  Criticizing politicians online is ok

Criticizing politicians anonomously online is ok, says state court

On Declan McCullagh's politech list, Paul Alan Levy of the Public Citizen Litigation Group says:
I want to call your attention to a very good decision issued today by the Delaware Supreme Court in Cahill v Doe, quashing a subpoena to identify a citizen who criticized a public official on a newspaper's blog. The decision contains a very good discussion of the potential chilling effect of such subpoenas, of the important role of the Internet in facilitating citizen communication, and of the need for a standard that balances the First Amendment right to speak anonymously against the interest of one who believes that he has been defamed to vindicate his reputation.

Most important, the decision agrees with most other courts that a plaintiff should not be allowed to identify his critics unless he presents evidence to support his defamation claims. This is the third appellate court in the country to weigh in on the topic, and all of them -- the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Melvin v Doe, New Jersey's Superior Court, Appellate Division in Dendrite v Doe, and now the Delaware Supreme Court -- have required the presentation of evidence before a Doe defendant may be deprived of his right to remain anonymous.

More info here (PDF link to opinion, here's the brief in PDF), and the decision will (eventually) be made available here.
 
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